Devotions

Monthly Archives: May, 2017

Sharables Lesson 1 – Devotional 4

Sharables Lesson 1 – Not Good Enough Samaritan
Dr. Randy T. Johnson | Growth Pastor

Yesterday, we looked at “Who is my neighbor?”   I wonder if that is the question Jesus was answering.  Let’s look at the context again in Luke 10:25-29.

“And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, ‘Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?’  He said to him, ‘What is written in the Law? How do you read it?’  And he answered, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.’  And he said to him, ‘You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.’  But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbor?’”

The part that bothers me is the attitude of the lawyer, “Desiring to justify himself.”  Maybe Jesus was addressing the first question, “What shall I do to inherit eternal life?”

If loving God and loving others summarizes the Law, and the Law cannot save, then our love (works) is not ever enough.

The lawyer was still trying to justify himself to earn eternal life.  I like how Martin Luther King Jr. shows this distinction, “On the parable of the Good Samaritan: I imagine that the first question the priest and Levite asked was: ‘If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?’ But by the very nature of his concern, the Good Samaritan reversed the question: ‘If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?’”

The focus should not be on our works or us.  Our focus should be on God and others.  Author William M. Holden was bold in saying, “Hell is paved with good Samaritans.”  Our works mean nothing.  We cannot save ourselves.  It is only the work of Jesus Christ that allows salvation. 

The lawyer wanted to justify himself.  He could not.  We cannot.

Love God for who He is and what He has done.

Love others for their sake.

Love others because it pleases God. 

“By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35).

Sharables Lesson 1 – Devotion 3

Sharables Lesson 1 – Good Samaritan
Dr. Randy T. Johnson | Growth Pastor

As Christians, we are to be salt and light to the world.  Jesus uses another parable in Luke to convey this point.  It is typically referred to as the parable of the Good Samaritan.  Luke 10:25-29 gives the context for the parable.

“And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, ‘Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?’  He said to him, ‘What is written in the Law? How do you read it?’  And he answered, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.’  And he said to him, ‘You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.’  But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbor?’”

My first impression of looking back at this passage had me surprised on how the lawyer summarized the Law in loving God and loving others.  We know from Jesus that this is the right answer.  The Lawyer then asks, “Who is my neighbor?”  It sounds like a simple question.

Jesus tells a story of two well-respected religious men walking right on by a man in need.  Then comes “the enemy.”  This Samaritan takes care of him.  Jesus then asks who he thought was neighborly.  The Lawyer said, “The one who showed him mercy.”

Pastor and author Timothy Keller points out the real challenge for us, “We instinctively tend to limit for whom we exert ourselves. We do it for people like us, and for people whom we like. Jesus will have none of that. By depicting a Samaritan helping a Jew, Jesus could not have found a more forceful way to say that anyone at all in need – regardless of race, politics, class, and religion – is your neighbor. Not everyone is your brother or sister in faith, but everyone is your neighbor, and you must love your neighbor.”

Your neighbor is whoever God has cross your path today.

Are you ready and willing to help him or her?

Sharables – Lesson 1- Devotion 2

Sharables Lesson 1 – Salty “Graham” Cracker
Dr. Randy T. Johnson | Growth Pastor

The lights of Las Vegas amaze me.  You can see them from miles away.  It is reported that hotels like the MGM Grand spend $100,000 a month on electricity.  I probably do not need to ask who is paying that electric bill.

As we have seen, Matthew 5:14-16 challenges Christians to be a light to the world, “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.  Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”

However, it is beneficial to understand the context.  Jesus gives another object lesson right before this section in verse 13, “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.”  The disciples and other listeners would have totally understood the value of salt.  Roman soldiers were even paid in salt.  I think salt has at least four implications.

First, Christians are to be the salt of the earth in that we are to bring a divine flavor or seasoning into the world.  Second, salt is known as a preservative.  The world has been preserved because of godly people.  Third, salt can sting on a wound, but the goal is to bring healing from sin.  Finally, salt was known for stopping decay, and we as Christians should help stop the moral decay of our society.

Yesterday, I put a thank you out to a bus driver I will not meet until Heaven.  Today I want to thank a man who is respected by all as a man who knew what it meant to be the salt and light of the world, Billy Graham.  When my father was a teenager, he went to a Billy Graham crusade and gave his life to the Lord.

Billy Graham has had an impact on millions of people, and I, fortunately, am one of them.

We are to be salt and light to the world.

“Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person” (Colossians 4:6).

Sharables Lesson 1 – Devotion 1

Sharables Lesson 1 – The Bus Driver Did It
Dr. Randy T. Johnson | Growth Pastor

Christians do not do good works to get to Heaven.  They strive to do the right thing as a thank you to Jesus for the work He did that allows us to go to Heaven and as a testimony to others of what Jesus can do for them.

As I read Matthew 5:14-16 I realize that Jesus is the Light of the World and that I am to be a light bearer: “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.  Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”

That would have to be one of the biggest compliments ever – people would see our good works, and it would cause them to give glory to God.  We are in the right direction when we help those who cannot repay the favor.  Visiting prisoners, helping widows and shut-ins, spending time with the fatherless, and just flat out encouraging one another shines a light on a dark world.  It confuses people and pushes their focus to God.

Titus 2:7-8 says, “Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.”   People are always watching.  It is ideal to walk in such a way that “the lost” are confounded and ashamed because as they opposed us, they realized they did not have anything bad to say about us.

As I close this devotion, I want to thank someone I never met.  I want to thank the bus driver from First Baptist Church of Hazel Park back in the early 1940’s who went into Warren and picked up my mom and aunt as little girls and brought them to church.  Your good work shined like a light and impacted many lives as they got saved. They have affected thousands, who have impacted thousands, which will impact…

“Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words” (St. Francis of Assisi).

How to Give #6 – A Penny For Your Thoughts

How to Give #6 – A Penny For Your Thoughts
Noble Baird | Guest Services Director

Years ago, I went on a mission’s trip from downtown Pontiac all the way to Detroit. My youth pastor had set up a trip with a local pastor in Pontiac for a group of us to walk down Woodward Avenue starting in Pontiac and ending in downtown Detroit. Along the way, we handed out backpacks with clothing, toiletries, and food to the homeless we came across. The whole time, I was expecting that we would be the blessing to those in need, yet I had it all wrong.

In Mark 12:41-44, Jesus teaches the disciples about not only how they ought to give, but the manner in which they ought to as well. Beginning in verse 41 Mark writes, “And he sat down opposite the treasury and watched the people putting money into the offering box. Many rich people put in large sums. And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which make a penny. And He called His disciples to Him and said to them, ‘Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.’” Jesus pointed out to His disciples two things about how the woman gave: sacrificially. She literally gave all she had, a penny! If that was not enough, she did not complain about it or have any second thoughts. She simply gave and walked away because she knew the importance of giving to the Lord.

When I was walking down Woodward, I thought that I would be the one to bless those in need; however, they blessed me. It was amazing that as I offered a backpack, food, and prayer; those I met wanted to pray for me instead! Some even took the supplies I had given them to give to their friends on the streets who they knew would need them more. The joy I received out of what I thought was me blessing those in need was immeasurable. How are you giving? Are you giving out of your abundance to check off the tithing box on your “to do” list every week, or are you giving sacrificially, so that you can see how God will bless, provide, and give you joy beyond belief?



Office: 8393 E. Holly Rd. Holly, MI 48442 | 248.328.0490 | info@theriverchurch.cc

Copyright © 2016 The River Church. All Rights Reserved.